Give. Life. Hack. Hair.

Last week I cut off over 35 centimetres of my hair. I didn’t do it to simplify my life, but ohmigosh. It takes about a minute to wash, uses so little shampoo and conditioner and about 5 minutes to dry. It barely needs brushing and it needs no styling. I had completely overlooked how much time I was spending (without ever doing much at all) on maintaining and then, mostly, hiding (in a bun) my hair. I’m so relieved. If you want a truly simple life, cut your hair. (Better, shave it all off.)

hair after

I was prompted to cut off my hair to donate to a company that then uses the hair to create wigs for cancer patients. I did this in honour of a beautiful, passionate woman who I both respected and admired. We lost her on June 27th, too soon. I don’t doubt for a second that if I had offered her my hair during her 9 month battle with cancer she would have said “Hell no!” Nevertheless, if someone out there can use my hair, I’m happy for them to have it. I didn’t even know that it was possible to donate hair until my gorgeous cousin posted about doing the same thing on FB last year. I thought this was a good opportunity to share this info with our readers and spread the word a little (although, to counteract advertising for a hair product company I will be entirely forthright – I would never put their products anywhere near my hair).

I don’t miss my hair. I had the choice of keeping it or cutting it. Other’s don’t.

Mama xo

 

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Believe in what you buy.

Buy something new. I don’t mind. It’s not my choice, it doesn’t impact on my decisions. That’s the great thing about our BNN project – we buy nothing new. It’s pretty cut and dry, it doesn’t have too many grey areas, we can live by that. It doesn’t mean we feel judgemental towards anyone else for their consuming decision making. What it does mean is that we get to show others that buying nothing new is possible, and it also might give people an opportunity to think about their consumption habits in a conscious way. I think, mostly, the buy / sell process is automatic for most people now. We never really thought about it before our first year began. We had started to buy fair trade coffee and avoid products with palm oil. We were becoming more aware of where our food came from. We knew a little about the unethical production of Nikes. We avoided Nestle. If it was a well-publicised boycott, we knew about it. Otherwise, we were a bit mindless when it came to our spending. We also didn’t realise that there were alternatives to consuming.

The thing about becoming a conscious consumer is that it doesn’t mean you have to stop consuming.  For us it means buying second hand or not at all. For others it may mean buying fair trade, or from stores that provide something back to communities who need it (think Oxfam shops). For some people it may mean buying locally, or supporting small business. For some people it is about buying Australian (or American or Mexican or wherever you happen to be based) made. For some it is about avoiding purchases that may inadvertently support labour camps or that encourage criminally low wages and the exploitation of children. Some may splurge on high quality household goods, knowing they will (probably) never have to replace them. Some will buy branded clothing that can then be passed on at a fraction of the price to people like us who buy nothing new.

The point I’m making, is that buying nothing new is one way. It’s our way, and we like it. We will probably do it forever.

Either way, I think it’s important that we think about what we’re buying, whether we need it and where is has come from. Don’t just be a cog in the wheel of someone else’s design. Make your own wheel, or become a part of something you believe in. Contribute your hard earned dollars to something that matters.

Well, that’s my 2 cents. It’s about all I have spare…

Mama xoxo

Buy Nothing New Month

We have snoozed a little on this, which is almost unforgivable. October is Buy Nothing New Month and although it is already the 5th day of the month, you can still pledge here. The website offers tips, tricks and encouragement to those who choose to play along. Of course you can pledge to buy nothing new any time at all – you don’t need others to set a time or date. The best thing about doing it in October is that you can share in the support offered by others who are doing it then, too. Or we’ll give you support any time!

Those of you who have been reading along with The Fearse’s for awhile will understand that buying nothing new doesn’t mean buying nothing at all. It means adding the thrill of the chase, the hunt for treasure to your purchases. You can buy almost ANYTHING second hand. In the process you might have time to think about your own consuming habits and what they mean for your life and your home and your environment. Or you might just find some kickass second hand goods to add one-of-a-kind personality to your home or wardrobe. Or maybe you’ll find yourself with a little extra cash at the end of the month so you can go out to dinner with your friends, or pay off a debt, or put away some savings. Either way, I can’t see how you’d regret it. Give it a go. I dare you.

Please, if you do decide to pledge, keep us up-to-date on your progress either in comments here or on Facebook.

Mama xox

All Quotes

I have been reading about the idea of “possessions” a lot lately and I have come across some great quotes that I feel inform some of our ideals when it comes to our decision to BNN this year,  so here our some of my favourites.

“Unnecessary possessions are unnecessary burdens. If you have them, you have to take care of them! There is great freedom in simplicity of living. It is those who have enough but not too much who are the happiest.” – Peace Pilgrim

“I draw from my family and my friends and I feel like that small-town person. The achievements, the materialistic possessions have really become to mean less. They mean nothing.” – Sheryl Crow

“All my possessions for a moment of time.” -Elizabeth I

“Many possessions, if they do not make a man better, are at least expected to make his children happier; and this pathetic hope is behind many exertions.” -George Santayana

“Do you really need a new pair of sneakers?” – Mama Fearse

BPP

Philosophies of minimalism.

Before we started BNN I rarely read blogs that dealt with the idea of minimalism. I have previously considered “minimalism” in itself to be more about a particular aesthetic than a philosophy for life. I’ve been really enjoying my reading on the topic, and found myself pondering the philosophies often lately. You may have gathered that I am far from a minimalist in the material sense and it’s not something I particularly aspire to. I do, however, enjoy the idea of simplifying my life – letting go of some of the mental and physical clutter that fills space in my mind and calendar.

I really enjoyed the first six weeks of Little Fearse’s life. I had been geared to experience infinite challenges, emotional turmoil, inability to ‘achieve’ and feelings of being overwhelmed and under resourced. I did feel and experience all those things on and off, but on the whole I just enjoyed my baby. We would often sleep in until 11am because that’s what she wanted to do. I would spend whole days playing with her, holding her, watching her, reading to her, sleeping with her. On these days there was never food ready for dinner when BP got home. The washing wasn’t done, the house wasn’t tidy, the bathroom didn’t smell of bleach. And you know what? None of us suffered. In fact, we all found our lives more gentle and enjoyable for it.

Sometimes this wasn’t possible. Sometimes for whole weeks we had visitors (four lots in one day was our brain exploding record), appointments, places to be every single day. On these weeks our sleep, energy and emotional wellbeing suffered.

I have learnt that to be an effective parent I need to have down time with my baby in every week. I have learnt that to be a happy baby Little Fearse needs whole days where she doesn’t get in the car or see a new face or have a new experience.

In this world we are geared towards productivity. We are driven by a force to achieve and have proof of achievement. We are not to let our hedges get unwieldy or our kitchen floors get grubby, our windows to be streaked or our lawns to be long. We are to socialise, get out of the house, see people – be seen with people! We are to have jobs, do our chores, cook our meals from scratch – be the best, most productive people we can be. One might say like a pig, in a cage, on antibiotics. 

Musical interlude.

Back to regular programming.

Joshua Becker’s article The 10 Most Important Things to Simplify in Your Life has given me a lot to think about. I am constantly trying to multitask to get things done. I will also often jump from task to task as though I’m ticking things off an urgent mental ‘to do’ list. I find on days I do this I really crash at the end. I’ll often be too tired to make dinner, or give Little Fearse the attention she needs or even respond appropriately to BP in conversation (apparently ‘so’s your face’ is wearing thin). And my freezer might be full, my bathroom might be clean, the sixteen loads of washing might be washed and hung up and dried and taken down and put away (hahaha) but I’m useless as a partner and mother. So, what’s the point?

Becoming a minimalist is about more than an aesthetic and more than getting rid of stuff. It’s also about tidying your mind and day. Deciding what is most important because you can’t do everything. BP and Little Fearse are most important to me, followed by laughter and a sense of fun and a healthy lifestyle. I obviously need to balance that with the other sometimes necessary tasks in life. I always need to leave room for these things.

More about food.

One of my dear friends, who I consider to be very ‘food aware’, linked this article on FB today: Food citizens make secure choices. This quote from the article really startled me:

The grass roots movement is starting to have an economic impact, with a recent report from the Australian Egg Corporation estimating that backyard chickens now account for nearly 12 per cent of the country’s total annual egg production.

I think the ideas discussed extend beautifully our beginning musings in To market, to market…I have joked with BP that next year, when BNN is over, I want to try the 100 Mile Diet. I’m kind of not joking.

(I’m definitely not joking.)

Converted, 100 miles is about 160 kilometres. When I look at the map of Victoria, based particularly on the area we live in, which abuts some farming communities, I reckon we’re laughing. I mean, it will definitely mean no bananas or mangos. It’ll possibly mean no wheat or associated products, but there is a lot of scope out here.

I overhead a conversation at the health food store recently about eating in seasons. The employee of the store was speaking about how it is affecting peoples health to eat food that is out of season. We like to have all food available to us all the time these days. To think that we can’t go out and buy a banana in winter or broccoli in spring is almost absurd. Mother Nature is quite clever, though, and the foods that are available fresh throughout the seasons are usually matched to the weather and our dietary needs. They are what we should be eating. When did we stop trusting that? Or stop caring?

The article above links some great resources that I’m looking forward to exploring. These include:

  • Local Harvest, a tool for finding local produce near you
  • CERES Fair Food, which provides fresh food boxes that are sourced from farmers who are paid appropriately for their produce
  • Food Connect, which so far services just Brisbane and Sydney, but provides information about local food near those cities.

I’m sure there are many more resources available and more cropping up all the time. I first heard about the Local Food Map website mid last year and it has already grown hugely. I guess the more we care about local food and the more information we seek about local food the more these tools will become useful.

Anyway, I’m off to work out where we can fit a few chooks in our backyard…

Eat well,

Mama xo

Why are we doing this?!

The new year seems to be approaching faster than usual and I’m trying desperately not to impulse buy (in bulk) things we might need in the next twelve months. The Buy Nothing New For a Year (BNN) project that our little family of three has committed to for 2013 came to me when I was researching Freecycle groups in my local area. We have a couch that is pretty awesome, but flawed, that I wanted to find a new home for. In my research I discovered communities of BNNers around the globe.

If you REALLY think about the concept it can capture your imagination. With all those oodles of idle moments I have (hmm) I spent a lot of time trying to imagine what would be the hardest thing about buying nothing new for a year. Clothes are not an issue for me, or for Little Fearse, because we always wear second hand. (I won’t speak for Big Poppa Fearse, who is a bit of a hat and sneaker addict.) Books, my real addiction, I almost always buy second hand. Ebay has become my best friend this year while I’ve been on maternity leave and our finances have been drastically reduced.  If I can’t get it on Ebay, I often won’t buy it.

There are a lot of things I really like about the concept of BNN. We have so much junk that we don’t need. We even have a lot of junk that we don’t want. We just have. Little Fearse has her own customised ‘sleep’ playlist that we listen to each night when she’s getting ready for bed. It includes John Lennon’s Imagine. I’m a pretty big Beatles fan, and of the Beatles John was always my favourite. I’ve been listening to Imagine since I was 9 years old, but you know what? I’ve never actually taken the time to imagine any of the things he sang about. How about this line?

“Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can.”

Well, it turns out I can’t.  The concept of possession starts REALLY young. I think about it when I’m admonishing Little Fearse for stealing other children’s toys; “No, sweetheart, that’s not yours. You need to give it back.” Given that most of us eventually grow out of putting everything we touch in our mouths maybe we need to really look at why we are so obsessed with owning everything ourselves and how sustainable that really is.

When I suggested BNN for 2013 to Big Poppa I think he had one of those (not very rare) moments where he wondered why he had to marry a woman who likes to complicate life so much. I’ll let him tell you about that.

Anyway, those who know me know I could go on for about eleven pages about why we’re doing this, but for the sake of anyone committed enough to still be reading here are the dot points.

  • Ecologically we need to think about where all this junk ends up. We don’t need it. Let’s not buy it in the first place.
  • We don’t have space in our lives, our hearts, our home for so much stuff.
  • Financially next year is going to be a challenge. Big Poppa will be studying full time and only able to work as much as studies and Dad duties will allow. I’m working half time, so our only guaranteed income will be my half pay each fortnight.
  • In an ideal world I want Little Fearse to grow up as a more aware consumer than her parents. I hope, eventually, that she will learn the difference between “want” and “need” and incorporate that into her life philosophy. First time parenting is full of such ideals.

We might need your help throughout the year. We don’t want you to help us by buying us things. That would entirely defeat the purposes outlined above. If we are in need of something and struggling to find it though our usual channels (Ebay, Freecycle, Zilch etc) we may ask through here if anyone has said thing lying around unused, or available for loan. If you’re keen to be of help keep your eye on the blog.

Thanks for reading, one loyal reader who made it this far. (Hi Mum!)

Be kind to each other,

Mama Fearse xoxox